“61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site.” (Junto, 2019)
In a world where search is dominated by mobile devices, it is essential that your business’ website dynamically adjusts to put its best face forward regardless of the device it is being viewed on. This is, in essence, the purpose of responsive websites.
What is a Responsive Website?
A responsive site is a single website that provides a consistent and user-friendly experience on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones via responsive web design (RWD) a term coined by Ethan Marcotte who described the theory and practice of responsive web design in his brief 2011 book titled Responsive Web Design.
Before responsive websites came about, however, the strategy used to provide websites with a presence across several devices was to create a version customized to each device. This solution soon lost traction as more and more devices with various screen sizes evolved which meant multiple website versions.
Today, however, it is easier than ever to develop a mobile responsive website with little or no web development experience. For example, almost all WordPress themes are responsive and with WordPress being used by 62.2% of all the websites, whose content management system we know, this equates to approximately 35.4% of all websites.
Google Recommends Responsive Web Design
Aside from the user experience and streamlined website management that responsive sites allow for there is one other reason why your local business needs to implement it ASAP and that is Google has factored mobile-friendliness into their algorithm as a search engine ranking signal.
In fact, on March 16, 2016, Google, after already announcing mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor, posted the following:
“Getting good, relevant answers when you search shouldn’t depend on what device you’re using. You should get the best answer possible, whether you’re on a phone, desktop or tablet. Last year, we started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches. Today we’re announcing that beginning in May, we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.”
Google has also listed the reasons why it recommends responsive web design. These are as follows:
- Helps Google’s algorithms accurately assign indexing properties to the page rather than needing to signal the existence of corresponding desktop/mobile pages.
- Requires less engineering time to maintain multiple pages for the same content.
- Reduces the possibility of common mistakes that affect mobile sites.
- It requires no redirection for users to have a device-optimized view, which reduces load time. Also, user agent-based redirection is error-prone and can degrade your site’s user experience.
- Saves resources when Googlebot crawls your site. For responsive web design pages, a single Googlebot user agent only needs to crawl your page once, rather than crawling multiple times with different Googlebot user agents to retrieve all versions of the content. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of your site’s content and keep it appropriately fresh. developers.google.com
To help ascertain the effectiveness of your site’s mobile-friendliness Google has developed the Mobile-Friendly Test, check it out whenever you have a chance.